The Pregnant Woman Who Led a Legendary Slave Rebellion
In 1794 the people of Guadeloupe briefly tasted freedom. A woman named Solitude decided she’d rather die than go back into chains — but her heroism was nearly lost to history.
The smell of putrefying vegetables hurled at bodies mingled with the metallic odor of blood. Onlookers waited for the public executions with the soles of their shoes or bare feet sticking to the darkened stones. No one spoke for fear of being misheard and accused of Revolution. Slavery had just been reinstituted on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, and the heads of those who opposed it would be removed in the town square.
This is just the way France looked, Europeans mused, during our Revolution. Except Black.
Rebel slaves were tortured in scores, but one in particular stood out. It was November 29, 1802, and a rain cloud draped itself over the crowd, insulating the onlookers as she was led out in a gown stained with breast milk. The frizz of her hair is the biggest thing on her, thought the crowd as the hooded executioner prodded her toward the scaffold.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial